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Project looks to preserve manure N

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Alberta’s agriculture department has started work with dairy producers in three counties on a new liquid manure injection project.

The goal is “to move to manure injection from broadcast,” says Trevor Wallace, project leader with the Nutrient Management Strategy in the environmental practices and livestock welfare branch of Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development.

The study will take place in Red Deer County, Westaskiwin County and Leduc County, all of which were interested in the benefits of the project, and also contain a large number of dairy producers.

The project is a hands-on pilot project, which will have researchers working one on one with the producers. Manure will be applied to benefit the producers’ own fields, which are mainly used to produce crops.

“Right now a lot of a manure application is broadcast, which means the manure is blown on the land using a tank. It shoots out of the tank in a high arc. This means that odour is an issue, but it also means that nitrogen is lost, and we’re trying to save that valuable nitrogen.”

Disc injection application of manure ensures nitrogen goes straight into the soil.

Wallace, who works in Red Deer for Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, explains the potential benefits in soil injection of liquid manure. “There’s no air movement, less odour and less nitrogen waste,” Wallace explained at the Agri-Trade Exposition in Red Deer.

One of the incentives for the project is to reduce costs for producers.

“Right now many producers are growing crops using fertilizers and not making use of their own manure. This process will save them money,” said Wallace.

The first meetings for the project were held in July and August. One of the project’s partners is Alberta Milk.

The first step in the project was surveying producers in the three counties to see how they apply their manure to the soil, and identify any problems the producers are having with application.

The second step involves bringing liquid manure injection equipment to producers’ fields and conducting demonstrations and soil sampling.

“The future plan is to work with the liquid manure guys to try injection or to try banding techniques. We’ll do this in large and small plots to examine the impact. We’ll then do soil sampling and manure sampling so we know what nutrients are being delivered. Over the next couple of years, we’ll do yield and soil sampling and keep monitoring the results,” said Wallace.

“Ultimately the goal is to reduce nitrogen loss and address barriers producers are having to

About the author

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Alexis Kienlen

Alexis Kienlen lives in Edmonton and has been writing for Alberta Farmer since 2008. Originally from Saskatoon, Alexis is also the author of two collections of poetry, a biography, and a novel called "Mad Cow."

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